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COPS monitoring supports video; an answer to no or slow police response
November 20,  2023
COPS monitoring supports video; an answer to no or slow police response from article on November 11, 2023
    I often enjoy reading your emails. Until now, I have never participated. However, I believe Mr. Jones’ email highlights important points that negatively impact our industry. Mr. Jones’ point about major disruption of their space in the “RMR Market” due to slow/no response, false alarm fines, etc. has merit. So… I’ll step up on my soap box with what I fear will be a lengthy response – but I also think it’s an important topic to bring to light.
    In response to Mr. Jones, you said “slow or no police response was the subject of a prior article, but it didn't generate any response. [So] it appears that the industry does not perceive this as a pressing issue. On the one hand, I think you’re absolutely right. There’s currently little incentive for dealers to care about slow or no response. On the other hand, there’s an emerging new ANSI standard called TMA-AVS-01 developed with input from more than 60 industry stakeholders that may contribute to slow/no response to the vast majority of existing alarm systems by giving priority to alarms with better information.
    To simplify, the goal of TMA-AVS-01 is to create a standard, repeatable scoring mechanism that gives public safety the opportunity to prioritize their resources and to have a better idea of what they’re responding to. At one end of the spectrum, there are alarms with no additional information (which are nearly ALL alarms today). At the other end, there are alarms with audio, video, etc. that give central stations and law enforcement valuable situational awareness to help prioritize response.
    You can find information and download the TMA-AVS-01on The Monitoring Associations website, but so far… I don’t see a big sense of urgency from dealers behind the initiative. I suspect that might be due to 2 things: 1) It only received ANSI certification earlier this year (after years of planning). 2) Education; It’s been a topic of conversation with monitoring companies, public safety and other stakeholders, but I’m not the sure the message is getting to the dealers yet or in a way that creates a sense of urgency.
    The reason I’d wanted to make my inaugural K&K email post is simple (but requires a long explanation!):
In 35 years, I’ve been through the conversion from 7 to 10-digit dialing, 2G, 3G, and ongoing POTS sunsets, and EOL of many field products that required upgrades. Each time, it seemed to me that there was always a period where some dealers took a wait-and-see approach wondering whether it was really happening. When they came to terms with the fact that failing to act would result in the loss of customers (and revenue), they would clammer to switch out the equipment (if they even could because customers aren’t always accessible or agreeable). In the end, it’s been my experience that sunsetting technology always results in a loss of customers and RMR to some degree.
    TMA-AVS-01 is different. The technology isn’t sunsetting, but the mindset of how law enforcement responds to a digital alarm with no additional information is. This is a very important topic that I fear, like the other industry changes I mentioned, may not get the attention until we see wide sweeping non-response to a traditional alarm system.
    In fact, I just spoke about TMA-AVS-01 at The Synergy Conference in Philadelphia on October 17. In my presentation, I displayed a comparison of the year 2000 to today. In that 23-year span, the percentage of households with an alarm system has been relatively flat.     What’s changed, however, is that we went from ZERO jurisdictions requiring ECV (2-call), to over 450 jurisdictions.      Furthermore, we also went from only 1 jurisdiction (Las Vegas) with non/verified response to OVER 20. Still, the percentage of alarms that law enforcement responded to that THEY deemed to be false hasn’t changed and still hovers in the 95%-98% range.
    So essentially, we’re still using decades-old technology (a blind, unintelligent, digital alarm system) to detect alarms… and then asking the police department to go “check and see” if it’s real – all at a cost of about $2 BILLION a year to public safety. How long do we think this is going to last? We can’t keep building our industry on the backs of law enforcement.
    What can dealers do about it? Great question! One solution is to use video. Video technology has advanced tremendously in the last 5-10 years. Video is not only better and cheaper, but there are also new products that will let a dealer retrofit existing video systems with AI, and professional monitoring. Monitored video (and audio) helps prioritize response, and it also creates a new source of revenue. Plus, it’s my opinion that a video-generated alarm signal would be categorized the same as any other alarm signal in the states that require licensing for alarms. If I’m right, that means only companies with the required licenses to monitor alarm systems could write a contract for monitored video (not CCTV, low voltage, etc.). At COPS, we feel so strongly about video that we’ve built a whole brand and monitoring operations around it. Our AlarmWATCH video services are monitored by a dedicated team of dispatchers with specialized training in video alarm response and we can monitor hundreds of cameras, NVRs, and other equipment.
    My point is that our industry already has the technology to verify alarms without the wasting the time and emergency resources of law enforcement. Plus, what we do see will help give law enforcement the information they need to provide situational awareness and to prioritize response.
    Law enforcement agencies learn from each other and adopt best practices. It’s my prediction that once law they realize the benefits of this generation’s “alarm+video+audio” systems more cities will join the ranks of Las Vegas and the other 20 cities that “sunsetted” response to “digital-only” alarm systems.
Instead of taking the wait-and-see approach that I witnessed in other sunsets, I would urge dealers to consider offering monitored video today. New RMR, fewer false alarms, priority response, great reputation with authorities all seem like winning reasons to me.
  David Smith
  COPS Monitoring
    Dealers haven't been overly concerned with no or slow police response because there isn't a great expectation for police response from the public in many places and I don't think many [if any] jurisdictions have abdicated their governmental responsibility to provide police protection to the public, so they still respond, albeit in varying degrees of priority depending on man power and situations requiring response.
    I agree that video makes a difference. Video gives you to opportunity to confirm on-site activity, whether it's a break-in or fire or something else, like water damage. Video adds value to the service. It also increases the cost to the consumer, which is really the idea of being in the alarm business in the first place.
    Not all central stations are equipped to monitor video, and video monitoring does come in different categories, recordings, live clips, live monitoring and live monitoring with two way audio capability. Each variety increases the cost to the consumer and of course a dealer's cost at the central station. I agree with COPS, it's worth it and you should be offering it. The Residential All in One and the Commercial All in One already covers all your video security provisions; all need to do is get comfortable with it and start offering it to your subscribers.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301